In its first year, Advanced Machinery Services has picked up business across the UK and Ireland, with a customer base including merchants large and small.
- Advanced Machinery Services was established a year ago.
- Its founder-directors were both Wadkin employees.
- Jackson Building Supplies is a client.
- It does upgrades as well as maintenance and has an online spares shop.
You don’t hear much about start-up businesses these days. Even less about successful ones. But wood technology service and parts specialist Advanced Machinery Services (AMS) is both of these things.
The Leicester company launched just a year ago, but has already picked up maintenance contracts across the UK and Ireland, with clients including some big name builders and timber merchants such as Jackson Building Supplies. Despite the economic climate, it’s increasingly busy and taking an upbeat outlook.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves or sound cocky, because that’s not what people want to hear at the moment,” said founder-director Steve McGloin. “But, while it’s hard work, and we’re not seeing as much of our families as we might like, we are definitely optimistic.”
Mr McGloin, 48, and his partner at AMS Steve Foster, 46, attribute the early momentum of the company in part to sheer graft, but also their experience of the market. Both are veterans of the wood processing equipment service, repair and refurbishment business, having clocked up over a quarter of a century each at one of the best-known companies in the field, Wadkin.
“Initially, we wanted to buy Wadkin from the administrators in 2007, but it went to other buyers,” said Mr McGloin. “Instead, we decided to set up on our own. We signed up with a very good bank, which are supportive while keeping us to realistic targets, and also secured private backing in addition to our own investment. Steve started with the business straight from the launch and I left Wadkin to join him a few months later.”
For their base, the partners went back to their roots, leasing 10,000ft², now expanding to 15,000ft², of the huge former Wadkin works in Leicester. The connection was further strengthened when Tony Harris, ex-Wadkin service manager, joined as one of their first engineers.
From the outset, AMS’s aim was to make machinery service its core focus – and it has since built up to four full-time and two contract technicians, plus an electrical engineer, with another technician about to join the team. They promise to get to customers in 24 hours and work on any make of machine.
“Perhaps naively, we thought we could concentrate on the Midlands to start with,” said Mr McGloin. “But we soon had calls from around the UK, and Ireland. We became very busy, very quickly, perhaps partly because in the current climate, companies are putting more emphasis on keeping existing machinery in good order.”
Besides straight service, maintenance and repair work, AMS is also being called in increasingly to upgrade machine braking and enclosures to the latest Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).
“We can also advise on compliance,” said Mr McGloin. “It’s a big issue. If there’s an accident and your machines aren’t up to the regulations, you can be in big trouble.”
While service is and, it says, will remain the company’s primary activity, the spares business has also been coming up fast on the rails. “To some extent this is growing on the back of service, with customers we’ve done maintenance for subsequently ordering parts,” said Mr McGloin. “We’re not going to stock everything, but can offer fast-moving consumables like gear boxes, universal joints, motors, seals on 24-hour turnaround.”
AMS, he added, is now talking with a number of other big machine brands on adding their spares to its range.
“We also have a spares web shop at www.advancedmachinery.co.uk where you can order parts and, if you want, pay online. We’ve even supplied spares from it to North America and South America.”
The refurbishment and rebuild part of the business is growing too. “That’s why we’re expanding our site by another 5,000ft²,” said Mr McGloin. “We see potential in this area, because of economic conditions, and we’re thinking of recruiting an engineer dedicated to it.”
AMS is also evolving in other areas, including customer training. “We’re working in conjunction with the training provider Didac offering courses that include machine familiarity, health and safety and maintenance,” said Mr McGloin. “Recently, we ran a course for a 12-branch Midlands builders merchant. It covered working with Weinig moulders, wall saws and a Stenner resaw.”
And AMS sees more avenues opening up. “We’re working 11 to12-hour days and doing the paper work on Saturdays, but it’s exciting,” said Mr McGloin. “We’re not going to over-reach ourselves, but we expect to increase our workforce from nine to 12 by the end of the year. There’s a big cake out there and if we remain professional and offer a good service, we’ll get our share.”